LOS ANGELES Jay Leno's new prime-time chat and comedy TV show lost more than 7 million viewers on its second night after a slew of bad reviews but was still the No. 1 U.S. network show of the night, audience ratings figures showed on Wednesday.
"The Jay Leno Show" -- the closely watched cost-cutting experiment by NBC -- was watched by 10.7 million Americans on Tuesday night, compared to a revised 18.4 million on its Monday debut, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Leno's move from his former 11:30 p.m. time period to the prime-time slot five nights-a-week that is traditionally occupied by expensive scripted drama is being scrutinized by the entire network TV industry as it struggles to cut costs and retain audiences.
General Electric Co's NBC network has been particularly hard hit and has been in last place for four years among the leading four networks.
Most TV critics slammed the new show after its Monday premiere, saying it was tired and old and failed to live up to the media hype of the past two months.
A drop off was expected and NBC executives have said they are looking at the long-term success of the show. The network noted that the Tuesday audience was still double the average 5.2 million who used to tune in to "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno at 11:30 p.m.
"The Jay Leno Show" also attracted more viewers on Tuesday than the season finale of "Big Brother" on rival CBS Corp's CBS, which drew an audience of 7.9 million, and Walt Disney Co's ABC repeat showing of an interview with the actor Patrick Swayze, who died of pancreatic cancer on Monday. The Swayze interview was seen by 6 million.
The leading U.S. networks will roll out the bulk of their new prime-time TV schedules in the next two weeks.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Eric Beech)